Thursday, November 7, 2019

Talkshow Thursday: A Guest Post by Julie Arduini

Talkshow Thursday: A Guest Post by Julie Arduini

Restoring Christmas by Julie Arduini
Highlighting the Misunderstood World of Special Needs Students
One of the most exciting aspects of this time of year is the release of Christmas romances. Hallmark knows their popularity; they are now showing movies outside of December. I love losing myself in a love story surrounded by snow and sleigh bells. 
Last year I was honored to participate in a Christmas box set. Although it is no longer available, my novella, Restoring Christmas, has been re-released in both print and Kindle format. I had so much fun writing this story using another Upstate NY area and characters who need to surrender their issues and come together to save a beloved tourist attraction in fictional Geneseo Valley.
One element I used in Restoring Christmas was having the hero, Kevin Holt, bring his students with special needs to help at the failing Christmas mansion. These young teens wanted to make a difference, and Holly Christmas had to decide if she would let go of her pride and allow the community to come in for help. What I enjoyed about Holly was she approached the special needs class with love and a little anxiety, and I think that’s normal.
I have volunteered with ministries that involve families with special needs and in Restoring Christmas, I was intentional in not giving specific diagnoses because sometimes an issue isn’t visible, and people are misunderstood. Sometimes touch is very important, and in other cases, even a pat on the shoulder can be scary. Changes to schedules are a big deal sometimes, and so are different noises we might take for granted. For Holly, she wants to be understanding, but the mansion her parents worked on for years as the premiere Christmas stop each year holds a lot of valuable items. Will the students break things? Will there be tantrums that interrupt her deadlines? How will Holly handle it all and how involved will Kevin be in the process?
Answering those questions truly were a delight. There is so much I love about Restoring Christmas, and one was that I was able to bring awareness to the special needs community. I also gave a nod to my hometown, Corning, with the mention of glass ornaments. More than anything, I believe there’s a sweet romance readers can escape with.
Do you have a connection with the special needs community? If so, you are in the presence of the most amazing group God created. 
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About Restoring Christmas: 
Filled with grief and regret, Holly Christmas returns to Geneseo Valley and the family business, The Christmas Mansion. Can Kevin Holt restore her love for the season and the memories she left behind?
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Holly Christmas left Geneseo Valley and her family’s holiday tourist attraction, The Christmas Mansion, as soon as she graduated.  Now both her parents have passed, and Holly returns when her uncle needs her help running the mansion. On Holly’s first day back, a blunt middle-schooler proclaims Holly hates Christmas. His comment forces her to reconcile the past while planning for the mansion’s future.
Kevin Holt is invested in offering hope to students with challenges. His best friend’s son is in Kevin’s class, and Nathan needs guidance. Their community project placement at The Christmas Mansion is an opportunity to make a positive difference. When Nathan blurts out his thoughts to the beautiful co-owner, Kevin wonders if he has what it takes to help restore the mansion to its former glory, mentor Nathan, and convince Holly Christmas she’s exactly where she needs to be.
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